Travel to China; the third-largest country in the world. A prosperous country in terms of tourism, there are vast plains, mountainous regions with snow-capped peaks, rugged gorges, virgin forests, and deserts. China also has 56 minorities, whose traditional customs, clothing, and architecture attract travelers from all over the world. With more than 4,000 years of history, the country has a heritage of great value, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
If you have decided to travel to China, it is worth exploring all the options available so that you can make the most of your stay by visiting the sites that will spark your most interest.
This article will help you to well prepare your travel to China.
1. When to travel to China?
In general, it is the dates of the vacation that determine when you have to go. Moreover, it is always important to know when is the best time to drop off your suitcases so as not to risk having unpleasant surprises, especially concerning the weather.
The first step in knowing how to prepare your travel to China will, therefore, is the choice of the period and the season of departure. We advise you to choose a stay between the month of April and the month of October. The weather is better during this part of the year, and the landscapes are more resplendent than during other periods.
Avoid the period of the Chinese holidays, during the Chinese New Year, National Day (October 1 to 7) and Labor Day (May 1 to 3). Indeed, hotels increase their prices, and obviously, it will be much more difficult for you to find a free room or an uncrowded activity.
2. Travel to China; Decide the places you want to visit
An important step in preparing your travel to China is deciding which sites you want to visit.
China being a huge country, of course, you won’t be able to see everything in one visit, so you will have to make choices, depending on what you want to see and how much time you will stay in the country.
10 days in China: a short itinerary that allows you to discover the country’s must-sees such as the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army, Zhangjiajie, and Guilin.
2 weeks in China: The ideal itinerary for a 2 week first trip to China, with Shanghai, Zhangjiajie, Xi’an, Beijing, and of course, the Great Wall of China.
3 weeks in China: A very beautiful and varied itinerary that will make you discover Canton, the Yunnan region with the cities of Kunming, Dali and Lijiang, the enchanting landscapes of Guilin and the Li River as well as Hangzhou, Mount Huangshan, Beijing and the Great Wall of China. After taking this trip, you will only want to go back to China.
3. Travel to China; Where to stay?
Once you have chosen your itinerary, you have to start booking hotels.
For China, you can book through Booking; there are no price surprises or false announcements.
The quality of Chinese hotels has improved considerably in recent years, and it is now possible to find (almost) the same standards as in Europe.
4. Travel to China; How much budget you need?
The first important thing to consider is that China only recognizes its own currency; the Yuan (or 人民币). No need to take euros or dollars, they are unaccepted.
Second, China is a country where cash still has an important place in everyday life, even if this tends to disappear in favor of mobile payments.
The cost of living in China is around 30% lower than in Europe. Especially the food which, in addition to being delicious, is inexpensive. Your main expenses in China will, therefore, focus mainly on accommodation and transport.
5. Travel to China; Things to think about before going
Most western sites don’t work in China (for example, Google, Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.…). A bypass software, also called VPN, is necessary (install it BEFORE YOU GO!).
We strongly recommend that you take a local Sim card to have some communication and especially mobile data on your smartphone.
You can purchase the Sim card on the internet or at the airport. Right after customs, you will find a China Mobil or China Unicom booth, which offers Sim cards with different mobile data capacities.
6. Travel to China; The must-see destinations in China
Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an are considered must-see destinations by most travelers. Beijing and Xi’an are two great historic cities. You can admire many historical monuments and sites, such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Terracotta Army (in Xi’an). As for Shanghai, the most modern big city in China, its visit constitutes an unforgettable experience for the traveler.
If you want to discover one of China’s most precious treasures, the pandas, your best bet is to go to Chengdu, where there is a panda research center.
To primarily discover Chinese culture and historical sites: Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, and Xi’an.
To admire sumptuous natural landscapes: Guilin, the Huangshan, Zhangjiajie, and Jiuzhaigou.
To meet ethnic minorities: Yunnan and Tibet.
– If you have planned a 10 to 12 days stay in China, we suggest you discover Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Guilin.
These are really four cities not to miss on your first trip to China. In Beijing and Xi’an, many historical sites and monuments are waiting for you. In Guilin, the Li River and the Chinese countryside’s fabulous landscapes are sure to leave you with wonderful memories. At the center of the country’s economic development, Shanghai is also a city with an ancient history, whose heritage includes many Western-style buildings. The Bund, in particular, is considered an open-air museum of international architecture.
– If you have planned to leave for 12 to 18 days of vacation, we can enrich the above proposal with additional destinations.
If you are interested in nature, the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan), a listed natural and cultural world heritage site near Shanghai, are a good choice; you will not regret being there. If you prefer history, we suggest Datong, Pingyao, or Luoyang. The Buddhist caves and the old town of Pingyao have attracted more and more people in recent years.
– If you want to discover Chinese national minorities, choose Tibet and Yunnan.
Its high altitude landscapes, snow-capped mountains, sacred lakes, and cultural specificities make Tibet a unique place, considered to be a place of pilgrimage. Bai, Hani, Naxi: Yunnan is the province of China, where the largest number of ethnic minorities live. Going from south to north, humid forests, rice terraces, volcanoes, gorges, and snow-capped mountains await the traveler in these two regions. However, be aware that foreigners cannot make a trip to Tibet on their own. They can only get there by participating in an organized tour.
Once you have chosen the destinations where you want to go, you can start to make the list of the sites you plan to visit and take a closer look at the possibilities available to you in terms of transport and accommodation in particular, in order to establish the first version of your travel program.
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Originally published on Live Positively.